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     I finished a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in reading instruction at the University of Minnesota in December of 1993, so we began homeschooling Amy in 1994.  I began looking for literature-based studies for Amy and found that there was not much available.  When we started homeschooling, we only intended to do it for two years.  But at the end of that time, homeschooling was working well for our family so we continued. 

     I began thinking about writing literature studies and my husband suggested the books in the TRAILBLAZER series.  When I contacted Dave and Neta Jackson about the idea, they communicated that homeschoolers were asking for guides but that they did not intend to write them.  I began working on the guides with their blessing and endorsement.

     The study guides for TRAILBLAZER books are chapter-by-chapter studies, so there are about 12-13 sections in each guide.  A guide can be finished in 12-13 schools days if a chapter is read each day and all of the work from the guide is completed on that day (1/2 - 1 hour of work).  If the chapter is read on one day and the work is completed on the next day, it will take from 24-26 school days to complete the book/guide.  In guides for longer books, several chapters are read in one day.  Study guides that are $5.99 contain 42 pages of study-guide material and 6 pages of introduction for a total of 48 (booklet) pages.  Study guides that are less than $5.99 have less pages.   

     After I completed guides for all of the books in the TRAILBLAZER series, I began to write guides for other books.  My husband and I co-authored the At Home With Writing series of booklets (
Basic Booklets), and our daughters worked as editors and authors (J. R. R. Tolkien guides, Good Books for Teenage Girls, Great Reading for Girls -- both are Basic Booklets).  We all worked to compile CNS's most popular Basic Booklet -- Books for Boys, and I spent several years writing an integrated curriculum titled America

     During these years we used a variety of literature-based studies from various companies.  Neither of our girls enjoyed long literature studies; when they got done with a study on a book that lasted 6-8 weeks they never wanted to see that book again!  Based on their reactions -- and on comments from other parents/teachers -- the concept of the mini-guide was developed.  I had a theory:  Homeschoolers and teachers in Christian schools don't care about fancy, expensive  bindings -- they are mainly concerned with content and low prices.  My theory has been tested and proven true:  Mini-guides -- two week studies (10 sections) -- are very popular!

     People often ask if guides are available for books from America:  An Integrated Curriculum.  Before I began producing mini-guides, my response had to be "no."  I started "writing" mini-guides by pulling out of America the guide information for popular books.  One of the first ones I "pulled" was Little Pilgrim's Progress.  The guide for this book is availble in America, as a study guide, and as a mini-guide.  It has become one of CNS's most popular guides.

     One question that I frequently answer is:  How does the content of a mini-guide compare to the content of a study guide? 

     The answer to that question:  There is a bit less content in a mini-guide.  Mini-guides are 5-7 letter-size (8 1/2" x 11") pages that are printed on both sides so there are 10-14 pages of material.  
Study guides (in booklet format) that are $5.99 contain 48 booklet pages. The content of study guides that are less than $5.99 (i.e., The Light at Tern Rock -- a Christmas Classic guide that sells for $4.99) is comparable to the content in a mini-guide.  

     In a study guide, the following parts always are provided for a chapter/section:  vocabulary, discussion questions, and at least one reading activity.  In a mini-guide, if vocabulary words don't "jump out" at me as I'm reading the chapter(s), I don't include vocabulary in that section.

     Many study guides that were originally written in booklet format are now also available in letter format (printed on 8 1/2" by 11" sheets of paper; 3-hole punched and ready to put in a binder of your choice).  A study guide that sells for $5.99 in booklet format is available for $5.00 in letter format (16-20 pages).  The guides in letter format are also able to be transmitted by an e-mail attachment.  Parents and teachers can now save mailing charges by ordering mini-guides and study guides in letter format as e-mail attachments!   

     The main reason for the price difference is the amount of time needed to create a mini-guide or study guide in letter format compared to a study guide in booklet format.  An 8-step process is required for a booklet, but only 3 steps are needed to put together a mini-guide or a study guide in letter format. 

     I consider myself an educational consultant rather than a salesperson.  If you have personal contact with me at a convention, through e-mails, or on the telephone, I will do my best to give you direction and advice that will help you teach your student(s) in the most effective way that matches your teaching style and your students' learning styles. 

     I am continuing to write Mini-Guides and Basic Booklets.  We look forward to providing new titles for our customers at the same low prices and low mailing rate -- the prices for materials published by CNS and CNS's low mailing rate have never been changed in 15 years of business!
                                                        -- Chris Roe



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History and How to Implement